Top 25 Films of 2012: 10-1

I try to keep my mind as open as possible during the year, and as you start assembling a list like this you see there could be perceived slights. The fact of the matter is making this list was brutal. More than once I had to consider if I can stick to a previously made proclamation, more than once I jotted down additional titles to see if they could slide into the top 25.

10. Kauwboy

Kauwboy (2012, Waterland Film BV)

Few films can go for lyrical simplicity and capture it so well. Equally difficult is capturing the unspeakable wonders of childhood creativity and a young protagonist alone. This film succeeds in all those areas and more. It truly deserves a worldwide audience.

9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012, Summit)

This film is one of the best heartfelt teen movies in quite some time. Yes, there was Easy A a few years ago, but that was primarily satirical comedy. There’s humor here but it’s mostly a drama, and has three characters you end up knowing and caring about a great deal.

8. The Dynamiter

The Dynamiter (2011, Film Movement)

I could’ve mentioned this for quite a few entries, but aside from all these films being quality pieces, this was really a year of tear-jerkers crowding this list. Making someone cry is one thing, but doing so and being all around great is something else. This film works so subtly and softly I never felt it coming, but when it hit, it hit so hard.

7. Les Misérables

Les Misérables (2012, Universal)

The rip-your-heart-out-bawl-your-eyes-out emotions of the show are here cinematic, raw, in your face here and I for one love it. Some songs are redefined, others reinvented; the cast breathes new life into this classic tale.

6. The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods (2012, Lionsgate)

If there’s one genre that needs a jolt of energy every so often, it’s horror. The proliferation of horror films will continue, so originality and reflexivity need to be injected to keep it vibrant. This is one of the best films in the genre in years.

5. North Sea Texas

North Sea Texas (2011, Strand Releasing)

Here you see the benefits of festival-going, for had I not made a point of attending QFest in Philadelphia I wouldn’t have seen it. The limited release of this film never really came anywhere close to me.

Thus, I haven’t been fortunate enough to re-view the film, but I firmly believe what I said prior: this will stand the test of time as an important work.

4. The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (2012, Warner Bros.)

I love Batman. I do. Had I not gotten bogged down, and behind schedule, I would’ve written a Hero Whipped about it. Nolan’s trilogy is brilliant, but mostly due to the way this one closes it. Enjoyable as the first two were, I always felt I didn’t like them as much as everyone else. This one I love a lot and was very emotionally involving.

3. Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina (2012, Fox Searchlight)

This and the title that follows on the list are the ones that really grew upon thought. I never expected this to be such an emotionally involving experience and I was very glad it turned out to be one.

2. The Turin Horse

The Turin Horse (2011, Cinema Guild))

This film is about as perfect a swan song as you could want.

1. Django Unchained

Django Unchained (2012, The Weinstein Company)

I wrote a bit about this in the BAM Award Winners post. To summarize here: this is a film about slavery that’s as funny as it is smart, and as brash as it is enjoyable.

BAM Award Winners: Best Original Screenplay

So here you have the dreamer category; those who want to bring an entirely new conception to the big screen. It is not inherent that the winner must present the most unique concept unleashed on the cinematic landscape but just the fact that something not pre-sold is being done is enough and when that film is great it’s even better. Here are the winners for Best Original Screenplay:

2020 Jeffrey Roda 18 to Party

2019 Jordan Peele Us

2018 Bo Burnham Eighth Grade

2017 Jordan Peel Get Out

2016 Nikias Chryssos Der Bunker


2015 Krampus Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields


2014 Locke Stephen Knight

Locke (2013, A24 Films)

2013 Blue Jasmine Woody Allen

Blue Jasmine (2013, Sony Pictures Classics)

2012 In the Family Patrick Wang

In the Family (2011, In the Family)

2011 Super 8 J.J. Abrams

2010 Inception Christopher Nolan

2009 Inglourious Basterds Quentin Tarantino


2008 Son of Rambow Garth Jennings

2007 Hot Fuzz Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright

2006 Little Miss Sunshine Michael Arndt

2005 Saraband Ingmar Bergman

2004 Mean Creek Jacob Aaron Estes

Mean Creek (2004, Paramount Classics)

2003 Love Actually Richard Curtis

Love Actually (2003, Universal)

2002 Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones George Lucas and Jonathan Hales


2001 Spy Kids Robert Rodriguez

Spy Kids (2001, Troublemaker Studios)

2000 Bowfinger Steve Martin

1999 Arlington Road Ehren Kruger

1998 Central Station (Central do Brasil) Marcos Bernstein, João Emanuel Carneiro and Walter Salles

Central Station (1998, Sony Pictures Classics)

1997 Highjacking Hollywood Neil Mandt and Jim Rossow

1996 Everyone Says I Love You Woody Allen

BAM Award Winners: Best Adapted Screenplay

As I have stated in a series of articles not yet transcribed to this blog, a good adaptation is not necessarily a literal one but a vital and cinematically compelling and vibrant one. In these winners I feel there is communicated more story than is written on the screenplay’s page, hints at other avenues and imbues within its narrative a spirit of a story that was not originally written for the screen but was made so through much thought, love and skill.

2020 Richard Stanley, Scarlett Amaris, and H.P. Lovecraft Color Out of Space 

2019 Gary Dauberman and Stephen King It: Chapter 2

2018 Jan Švankmajer and Karel Čapek and Josef Čapek Insect

2017 Chase Palmer & Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, and Stephen King It

2016  David Lowery & Toby Holbrooks, Malcolm Marmostein, Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field Pete’s Dragon


2015 Aferim! Radu Jude and Florin Lazarescu


2014 The Drop Dennis Lehane

The Drop (2014, Fox Searchlight)

2013 Broken Mark O’ Rowe and Daniel Clay

Broken (2012, Film Movement)

2012 North Sea Texas Bavo Dafurne and André Sollie

North Sea Texas (2011, Strand Releasing)

2011 Hugo John Logan and Brian Selznick

2010 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni and C.S. Lewis

2009 Where the Wild Things Are Spike Jonze, David Eggers and Maurice Sendak


2008 Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) Johan Ajvide Lindqvist

2007 Day Watch (Dnevno bazar) Timur Bekmambetov, Alexander Talal, Vladimir Vasiliev and Sergei Luyanenko

2006 Running with Scissors Ryan Murphy and Augusten Burroughs

2005 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Anne Peacock and Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and C.S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005, Disney)

2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Steven Kloves and J.K. Rowling

2003 Peter Pan PJ Hogan and Michael Goldenberg

2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Steven Kloves and J.K. Rowling

2001 Artificial Intelligence: A.I. Ian Watson, Steven Spielberg and Brian Aldiss

2000 Titus Julie Taymor and William Shakespeare

1999 The Butcher Boy Neil Jordan and Patrick McCabe

1998 The Mighty Charles Leavitt and Rodman Philbrick

1997 Contact James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, Anne Druyan and Carl Sagan

Contact (1997, Warner Bros.)

1996 Harriet the Spy Greg Taylor and Julie Talen, Douglas Petrie and Theresa Rebeck and Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet the Spy (1996, Nickelodeon/Paramount)

BAM Awards: Best Supporting Actor Winners

Here in this category there are a few things that may not be noticed if looking at it on a year-by-year basis. Namely not only are there two two-time winners (Osment and Robbins) but also four cross-over winners (Meaning they won both Lead and Supporting prizes).

Without much further ado The Best Supporting Actor Winners:

2020 Dean-Charles Chapman 1917

2019 Samuel L. Jackson Captain Marvel 

2018 Michael B. Jordan Black Panther

2017 Sam Rockwell Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

2016 Daniel Fripan Der Bunker


2015 Sonny Young Still


2014 Robert Duvall The Judge

The Judge (2014, Warner Bros.)

2013 Ben Kingsley Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 (2013, Marvel)

2012 Leonardo DiCaprio Django Unchained

Django Unchained (2012, The Weinstein Company)

2011 Alan Rickman Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

2010 Will Poulter The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

2009 Christoph Waltz Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds (2010, The Weinstein Company)

2008 Robert Downey, Jr. Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder (2008, DreamWorks)

2007 Jack Nicholson The Departed

The Departed (2007, Warner Bros.)

2006 Gabriel Byrne Wah-Wah

2005 Erland Josephson Saraband

2004 Rodrigo Santoro Carandiru

2003 Tim Robbins Mystic River

2002 Haley Joel Osment Edges of the Lord

2001 Jude Law Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

2000 Haley Joel Osment Pay it Forward

1999 Tim Robbins Arlington Road

1998 Nick Nolte U Turn

U-Turn (1997, TriStar Pictures)

1997 Lucas Black Sling Blade

1996 Chazz Palminteri Mulholland Falls

Favorite Older Films First Seen in 2012, Part 5

This is an idea I first saw on @bobfreelander‘s blog. The idea is to list your favorite films from the past year that you saw for the first time, but exclude new releases. This allows much more variety and creates a lot of great suggestions if you read many of them.

Since I tracked these films much more closely this year my list grew long. I will occasionally combine selections by theme, but there is enough for five posts. These choices are in no particular order.


Hellphone (2007)

Hellphone (2007, Studio Canal)

This is a movie that is an absolute blast and it’s certainly unexpected. This is a French horror/comedy, which stars Jean-Baptiste Maunier a few years after his breakthrough in The Chorus. It’s about a demonic cellphone with a mind of its own. From the inciting incident, which plays out kind of like the acquisition of the Gizmo in Gremlins, you know what you’re in for: a lot of laughs, great kills and creative cinematography. 

House of Long Shadows (1983)

Here’s another assembly of horror legends and in this film you’d think there’s no way all these icons can have their moment, you fear it’ll fall victim to All-Star Cast syndrome but it doesn’t. Aside from the problematic lead, and a build-up you have to work your way through, this film really works.

The Thing from Another World (1951)

The Thing From Another World (1951, RKO)

If you’ve seen either the Carpenter version or the new silly pre-make, you owe it to yourself to watch this one as well.

The Rape of the Vampire (1968)

The Rape of the Vampire (1968, Les Films ABC)

I got on a little Jean Rollin roll at one point this past year and it lost some of its momentum. He’s typically more stylistically intriguing than narratively, but this has both.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994, New Line Cinema)

Typically during 61 Days of Halloween I tackle at least one series to watch and occasionally write on. This year I got those cheap 4-in-1 sets to take in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. This was the late-series surprise. A tremendously reflexive work, that pre-dates Craven’s meta work in Scream, and is quite an effective close to his direct involvement in the series.

The White Shadow (1924)

The White Shadow (1924)

This is the famous fragmental silent Hitchcock that was found in a family attic in New Zealand last year. In typical Hitchcock fashion the film stops at the height of suspense to that point, even fragmental Hitchcock is great – it would’ve been interesting to finish it though as the text indicates some wild plot twists from there. You can watch it here.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now (1979, United Artists)

There may be more classics taken in for the first time next year as I have a new outlook on long overdue screenings. This list remains mostly quirky and classics I don’t need to sell anyone on are few and far between – should there be a plethora of long overdue screenings I will make the semantical change to “Dicoveries,” which would preclude the need to mention obviously good titles.

World on a Wire (1973)

World on a Wire (1973, Janus Films)

This past year, owing to my fascination with Berlin Alexanderplatz the year before, I took in two Fassbinder films and this one was the most fascinating. I will likely take in more next year and wouldn’t mind if his work became a staple on these lists.

The Birds (1963)

The Birds (1963, Universal)

OK, so far as this goes I never considered this film viewed because I never saw it from start-to-finish straight through I had several fragmented viewings, thanks to TV before this. Here Hitch’s idea to use no score truly works.

Emil and the Detectives (1964)

Emil and the Detectives (1964, Disney)

When considering what to do with this final spot a lot of the candidates covered niches I had covered already: Shot/Produced in Brazil (Where the River Runs Black), Hitchcock (Frenzy), Horror (The Mummy) and Disney (Child of Glass), however, to be more specific a Disney Movie Club selection didn’t make it. Now, yes, it one of those clubs where you buy a bunch cheap then have a membership requirement, but if you’re vigilant and a Disney nut it can be worth it. Another perk is Club exclusive titles. This tale is German and translated, but with a solid cast, very well-composed cineamtography and an engaging storyline it works fairly well. Disney titles that aren’t available openly are a topic for another day, but the club is a way to get some unique titles, and this was the best of the lot to me thus far.